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Stay of proceedings in St. Paul arson case

“Tantamount to an acquittal,” says lawyer Brian Beresh
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ST. PAUL - A stay of proceedings has been ordered in the case of former St. Paul businessman Jerry Bidulock, who was scheduled to be tried on three counts of arson. His lawyer, Brian Beresh, described the move as “tantamount to an acquittal.”

In speaking to the St. Paul Journal Tuesday, Bidulock said he was feeling relieved but not vindicated.

“Having been wrongfully accused via blurred assumptions and innuendo, quite recently, on 2020/02/20 I learned that I am now cleared of all charges,” Bidulock noted in a statement to the Journal.

“Although this brings considerable relief, I have mixed feelings as to what is needed for a comprehensive resolution. While not having been given the reason(s) for the Crown’s action, it is my hope that some circumstance or new information might have brought the investigation closer to the real cause of the business catastrophe of Aug. 7, 2018.”

Bidulock was facing two charges of arson to property and one count of arson for fraudulent purpose stemming from two commercial structure fires in August 2017. One fire occurred at the Power Merchants retail outlet on main street and the second fire occurred in a warehouse on 53rd Ave. Both properties were owned by Bidulock.

“They never tell us the basis for the decision, but in my professional view the evidence did not support that Mr. Bidulock was involved,” Beresh said. “The position of the defense is someone else in involved and we were looking forward to proving that at the trial.”

Beresh said it is unlikely the case will be recommenced, although the Criminal Code does provide that the prosecution could do so within one year of ordering the stay. However, he said the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for an individual’s right to a trial within a reasonable amount of time.

“The Charter trumps the Criminal Code. So, as soon as a stay is entered where someone is prepared to proceed to trial, that has interfered with his right to a trial in a reasonable period of time.”

Beresh said he has informed his client the prosecution’s move is equivalent to being found not guilty. How that will play out in the court of public opinion remains to be seen.

“I’m hoping that some of that will be lessened by the public learning that his trial was set. We were prepared to go to trial and the prosecution, in my view, decided that there was no case and that’s why they not only entered the stay, but they vacated the date set for trial.”

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